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Serious surgical errors include items left in patient's body

When New Yorkers need medical assistance, they rely on doctors and nurses who have received extensive education and training. One would think that individuals possessing such knowledge and skills would be able to adequately assess, diagnose, and treat most medical conditions. Tragically, though, some medical professionals make mistakes that can leave otherwise unsuspecting patients seriously injured, disabled, or even dead.

One type of mishap that often causes extensive harm is surgical errors. These mistakes can take the form of wrong-site surgery, unneeded operations, and retained surgical items. None of these errors should occur. Yet, thousands of people are subjected to them each year. In fact, estimates put the number of cases involving retained surgical items at anywhere between 2,000 and 4,000 per year. This is a staggering number that should be at zero.

One of the most commonly retained surgical item is the surgical sponge. Though varying in sizes, these items can often be miscounted and lost in operation site, causing them to be left inside the patient. Medical professionals have worked hard to implement new technologies and procedures to eliminate the number of retained sponges, but the sad fact remains that many individuals still suffer from these mishaps.

Those who are subjected to retained surgical items and other surgical errors may have a long road ahead of them. The physical damage caused by the mistake can be devastating, and the patient may need to take an extensive period of time to recover, if recovery is even possible. The financial toll can also be troubling, as many victims need additional operations and perhaps medication and rehabilitation.

This, together with the stress, anger, and depression that can manifest when wronged by a medical professional, can leave a victim overwhelmed. Therefore, those who are hurt by negligent parties should consider speaking with a medical malpractice lawyer to learn how they can fight for the compensation they deserve.

Source: Nothingleftbehind.org, "Retained Surgical Items," accessed on June 1, 2015

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Michael J. Gaffney, Attorney at Law
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